The Plot Against the NHS is a fascinating book and is essential reading for anyone who is trying to understand what is happening to our health service. It goes through the moves that successive governments have made to introduce the market into the NHS.
The book illustrates how the Labour Party when in power had links with private healthcare providers who were influential in the shaping health policy.
Although the Labour Party is now arguing against the Health and Social Care bill, it was Labour that introduced PFI and the internal market.
The links between Labour and private healthcare providers were so strong that when the former health minister Alan Milburn resigned he went to work for a private healthcare company.
In the Plot Against the NHS, the authors point out that many of the new proposals are the logical consequence of some the changes introduced by New Labour.
It also shows how the changes proposed in the new bill would fundamentally change the health service. Private companies are desperate to get their hands on the NHS because of the massive profits they imagine making.
The authors illustrate the connections between the private companies and the present government, and that the changes being made to the NHS are not to make it better but as part of an ideological attack on the welfare state.
There are key lessons that activists can take from the book. When we are fighting these reforms we are not just up against the government but also against some of the biggest and nastiest companies in the world—like United Health, who in the US have been sued by patients, health workers and insurance companies.
The changes could be implemented at great speed.
Private companies and neoliberal politicians have been planning the destruction of the NHS for years.
They have a game plan that they are implementing before the bill has even been passed.
This means that activists have to act with as much speed, audacity and militancy as possible.
Thousands of health workers and campaigners marched through London against the bill on Tuesday of last week.
Now our actions have to grow in numbers and in militancy.
We need to see campaigns that are lively and exciting across the country—and strikes by health workers can help to see off the plans.
It’s our NHS and we need to fight to save it!
The Plot Against the NHS by Colin Leys and Stewart Player is
published by The Merlin Press, priced £12.95. Available from
Bookmarks, the socialist bookshop, on 020 7637 1848